UCL Working Papers in Linguistics 11 (1999)

Classifiers, demonstratives and classifier-to-demonstrative movement


This paper examines the feature composition of Cantonese determiner-like elements in the light of current literature (Cheng 1998, Cheng and Sybes ma, to appear, Li 1998, 1999a, b). It is argued that a combination of proposals in these works best captures the Cantonese facts. In particular, I argue for three specific positions: Firstly, classifiers, rather than demonstratives, are instantiations of D with a [referential] feature. Secondly, classifiers encode a [count] feature. Third, demonstratives encode a [definite] feature, but classifiers and numerals do not. What appears to be a bare classifier phrase in Cantonese (i.e. without an overt numeral or demonstrative) is actually bound by a Dem node, which may be empty (resulting in an indefinite reading) or filled by the classifier which moves from the lower CL position.

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